Lower prices at Northeast ski resorts

 
LA Times | Travel
 

As predicted by most meteorologists, the 2008-09 ski season got off to a good start with early snow - and lots of it. For the first time in years, many Northeastern resorts were able to open in time for Thanksgiving. What no one had predicted, however, was that the economy would hit such a nasty ...

By Marshall S. Berdan // 01.27.09
 

As predicted by most meteorologists, the 2008-09 ski season got off to a good start with early snow - and lots of it. For the first time in years, many Northeastern resorts were able to open in time for Thanksgiving. What no one had predicted, however, was that the economy would hit such a nasty ice patch in October.

Now, disposable incomes are nowhere near as fluffy as they were expected to be back in August when most resorts set their season prices, and skier volume has fallen below expectations.

In an effort to lure fiscally cautious skiers to the slopes, most Northeast resorts have resorted to discounting prices.

When to go

Although the deals are targeted primarily at those who wouldn't otherwise come, the real beneficiaries are likely to be those who were already planning on skiing this winter but just haven't gotten around to making their reservations.

Midweek deals tend to dominate, but weekend and Presidents' Week (Feb. 16-22) holiday skiers aren't being left out in the cold. What's more, if the current crop of incentives doesn't do the trick, deeper discounts are likely to follow.

What you'll find

The best overall deals tend to be found at the bigger resorts, especially on multinight ski-and-stay packages at their own lodgings. Almost all of the big resorts are offering considerable savings. But don't forget to check out unaffiliated hotels, motels and inns located nearby as well - what you can save there on a room alone could make the trip affordable. Also, many alternative hotels offer reduced-price lift tickets.

Day trips

Already have a place to stay? Don't despair. Day-trippers still can benefit from online lift ticket and equipment rental discounts. Traditionally, the savings amount to roughly 10 percent, but this year the discounts often approach 20 percent. The catch? Most require advance purchase and, of course, are not refundable.

Getting the deal

We've including a sampling of some of the better and more unusual offers available at a number of Northeastern ski resorts as of press time. Be sure to read the small print carefully for blackout dates, advance purchase requirements and potential deal-busters.

Throughout New York, 315-696-6550

44free.com

THE DEAL All New York State fourth-graders ski for free when accompanied by a paying adult at 28 resorts in New York State (limit 3 coupons each resort). Advance registration and proof of eligibility are required, and there is a $19 processing fee per child.

Hunter Mountain, Hunter, N.Y., 800-486-8376, huntermtn.com

THE DEAL Wednesday is ladies day at this resort, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. For $53, ladies get an all-day lift ticket, equipment rental, a group lesson and lunch (ages 13 and older).

Stratton, Stratton, Vt., 800-787-2886, stratton.com

THE DEAL Stratton is discounting a number of packages for skiers who want to test out the resort's $4 million in improvements - which include three new trails and three new glades. For example, if you stay and ski at any of their base village properties Friday through Sunday, you can ski free on Monday (from $438 for two people in a standard room). Midweek travelers may have interest in last-minute specials, which dip as low as $59 a person daily, including lift tickets.

Jiminy Peak, Hancock, Mass., 413-738-5500, jiminypeak.com

THE DEAL You can get a jump-start on a weekend ski getaway with a free Thursday night lodging and two adult lift tickets with a two-night weekend stay-and-ski package at the Country Inn Suites. The savings add up to about $280, but the two-night weekend minimum means a family of four would have to spend at least $558 to qualify.

Killington, Killington, Vt., 802-422-3333, killington.com

THE DEAL Taking a cue from Priceline.com, "the Beast of the East" - under new management and boasting a brand-new high-speed quad on Bear Mountain - is offering "Snow Blind Deals. " The last-minute packages come with 30 percent reduction on lodging and a 25 percent discount on lift tickets. There's a two-night minimum and the "blind" part is that you won't know which resort property you'll be staying at until after you've made a (nonrefundable) payment.

ALSO TRY In Killington, Vt., Pico Mountain (866-667-PICO,picomountain.com) is offering a deal on nonholiday Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays that offers lift tickets for up to four college students for $100 (normally $52 each). Here, kids ages 6-12 can ski for $10 on Sundays when they're with a paying adult.

Magic Mountain, Londonderry, Vt., 802-824-5645, magicmtn.com

THE DEAL Skiing with a crowd? If you can steal away on a Wednesday, $80 buys lift tickets for a carload (any ages, up to seven people). They normally cost $39 each.

Belleayre, Highmount, N.Y., 845-254-5600, belleayre.com

THE DEAL The resort's Economic Stimulus Package offers buy-one, get-one-free lift tickets when skiers present $50 worth of receipts from participating retailers, including lodging and restaurants.

Okemo, Ludlow, Vt., 802-228-1600, okemo.com

THE DEAL While the refurbishing of the original base lodge and ongoing improvements to the new Jackson Gore Lodge might be deemed a value at regular rates, on Monday, Feb. 2, the price of an all-day adult lift ticket will be equal to the total number of points scored by both teams in the Super Bowl the night before ($59 maximum).

Cranmore, North Conway, N.H., 800-SUN-N-SKI, cranmore.com

THE DEAL Skiers enjoying the slopes at Cranmore (which debuted two new trails and new glades area this year) can add the next day on to their existing lift ticket for $35 (a $20 savings) before 4 p.m.